The day broke at last, and, after repairing our bridles as well as we could, we prepared to depart. We wrapped the body of the dead lad in a blanket, and laid it over the back of his horse to convey it to our camp, where we might bury it according to the rites of the English church. I examined the carpenter’s leg, and found his hurt was, fortunately, only a flesh wound. It gave him, nevertheless, great pain to travel on horseback, but there was no other means of conveying him to the camp. As we rode slowly along, in the grey light of the morning, we caught sight of the valley, the scene of our last night’s misfortunes, and saw on the hill-sides two white-tented emigrant wagons, with the horses quietly grazing down in the bottom. Several of us rode towards the spot, but found not a soul there. One of last night’s mysteries was explained. The camp we had at first taken to be an Indian one, and then one of mountain robbers, was merely that of a few emigrants, who, having crossed the pass in the Sierra Nevada, were, doubtless, on their way to the Sacramento Valley. In all probability, alarmed by the extraordinary affair of last night, they had abandoned their wagons, and sought concealment from the dangers which they imagined surrounded them. We shouted out the words “Friends,” “Americans,” and other expressions, to give them confidence, if they were within hearing, but we obtained no reply. We, therefore, hastened to rejoin the remainder of our party, and in about three hours tune we reached the camp, cheering ourselves with the thought, as we moved along, that we should find McPhail had returned. But we were doomed to disappointment; there were no tidings of him, and sorrowfully did we set to work to dig poor Horry’s grave. After Malcolm had read the service from the English Prayer-book over him, we sawed off a pine-log, which was inserted a couple of feet deep in the ground, and on the upper part, which had been smoothed for that purpose, we carved, in rude letters, his name, and the date of his death.
The party strengthen their defences
No tidings of McPhail
The trapper goes in search of him
Returns, having met with no success
McPhail makes his appearance accompanied by guides
His adventures while away
Finds he is lost
Loses his rifle
Loses his horse
No food for three days
Sinks into a stupor
Is discovered by two Indians
Their humane treatment of him
They conduct him by slow marches to the camp.
August 27th.—We have passed a heavy but not very profitable week. Three days of our time have been spent in strengthening our defences, and we have had some severe labour in felling pine trees and dragging them to the stockade. We have driven sharpened stakes into the earth, and, after laying the logs longitudinally within them, have twisted the lighter boughs and brushwood of the trees in the interstices. Before we began this task, however, the trapper, Malcolm, and Lacosse started in search of McPhail, but returned the same night (Sunday) unsuccessful. In the meantime, my two patients got on favourably, the pure air and temperate living doing more for the wounds than medical skill could effect.